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CHEYENNE — In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, F.E. Warren Air Force Base will collaborate with state and local governments and law enforcement to cut down on underage and irresponsible drinking, officials announced Tuesday.

The $300,000-per-year program, funded with federal dollars, will step up education and enforcement efforts to combat alcohol use among minors and abuse among adults, Gov. Matt Mead said at a State Capitol press conference alongside Cheyenne Police Chief Brian Kozak and Col. Christopher Coffelt, commander of the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren.

Alcohol was involved in 79 percent of the 19,000 arrests Wyoming law officers made in 2010, and it’s the leading cause of vehicle crashes and deaths of young people in the state, according to Kozak.

“Wyoming has a problem with arrests and alcohol-related arrests,” Mead said. “We have too many kids who are underage who are using alcohol, and we frankly have too many adults who are not responsible using alcohol. And that is a detriment to the state of Wyoming.”

The program, which is an expansion of a similar effort at F.E. Warren, will look to find the best ways to educate people about the dangers of drunken driving, underage drinking and drinking to excess.

State, local and military police will also work together under the program to crack down on drunk people who disobey the law.

On Halloween, a “huge contingent” of police officers will patrol looking for drunk drivers and underage drinking, Coffelt said. In addition, “party posses” composed of volunteer residents will attend parties, along with other places where underage drinking is likely to take place, to spot and report offenders.

“We want the message out there: zero tolerance,” Coffelt said. “We’re not going to put up with people driving on our streets impaired by alcohol or drugs.”

While initially limited to Cheyenne, the program if successful would serve as a model for similar efforts elsewhere in Wyoming, Mead said.

The Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs provided funding for the three-year project.

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Contact capital bureau reporter Jeremy Pelzer at 307-632-1244 or jeremy.pelzer@trib.com.

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